UPND President Hakainde Hichilema has described the re-election of President Edgar Lungu as a coup on Zambia’s democratic process.
Mr Hichilema said the will of the people has been changed in an illegal and undemocratic way.
He has since announced that the UPND will file a petition in the constitutional court to challenge President Lungu’s victory.
Mr Hichilema disclosed this during a press briefing this evening.
“Firstly we wish to thank our supporters from the bottom of our heart. We are truly grateful for your support, hard work and dedication throughout the election period. Today the PF has effected a coup on Zambia’s democratic process,” Mr Hichilema said.
“The will of the people has been changed in an illegal and undemocratic way. We submitted evidence before the declaration of the results regarding the gross irregularities that have taken place,” he said.
Mr Hichilema said in any free, fair, transparent and democratic system this would have been enough to prompt a recount in the affected areas but that Zambia no longer operates that way.
“The ECZ has taken the decision away from the people. Zambians made their decision on Thursday. That decision has not been respected. During these delays the PF have acted with impunity to change the result,” he said.
Mr Hichilema said the UPND team endured countless obstacles and perversions of democracy throughout the campaign period and that it cannot now accept the manipulation of the vote itself.
“That is why we will not accept the result. We will be launching a Constitutional Court petition on the basis of the evidence we have collated and presented to the ECZ,” he said.
“As the Constitution sets out, once we have launched our petition then there must be no inauguration until the matter is settled in the court. This is according to a provision in the new Constitutional Amendment Bill that Edgar Lungu himself assented to just a few months ago.”
He said the independence of the ECZ has been compromised, after coming under pressure from the PF.
“We will now place our faith in the Constitutional Court, in the people of Zambia.”
He said the grounds on which the party will launch the petition are many, but they include the withholding of G12 forms from UPND’s polling agents in order to enable tampering with the results in favour of the PF.
“Without authenticated certificates for the stations there is no validity in the totalling process. The ECZ itself acknowledged this fact, agreeing to a verification and recount of votes in Lusaka district and the formation of a task team to oversee the process just yesterday afternoon, before the decision was later reversed under pressure from the President Lungu,” he said.
Mr Hichilema also cited the intimidation of party agents at polling stations during the counting process, whereby PF supporters physically kicked them out before having uncontrolled access to the ballot boxes.
“Discrepancies in the vote count and the result issued by the totalling centre, for example the case of the 14,039 missing UPND votes in Kanyama that were later found in the bin. Once these were input our vote went from 17,985 to 32,024. Even after this, however, the ECZ announced a figure of 30,892. We are compiling a list of other such instances to present to the courts.”
“Instances where a higher number of votes were cast than registered voters. For example, at Kamanga polling station in Munali constituency where there were 714 more votes cast than registered voters. The discovery of pre-marked ballot papers outside of ZAF HQ in Lusaka as late as Sunday morning,” he said.
Mr Hichilema said the UPND has specific evidence of gross irregularities in a number of constituencies, including all of the Lusaka urban constituencies, namely Kanyama, Munali, Chawama, Mandevu, Lusaka Central, Matero and Kabwata.
“If we fail to stand up for our democracy today then we undermine our prospects for peace and development in the weeks, months and years to come.”
“Finally, we call on Lungu to stop brutalising our supporters. Across the country’s markets, bus stops, taxi ranks and their work places our supporters have been victimised. This must stop right now. Zambians have a democratic right to vote for a leader of their choice. We will not return to a one-party state. We have come a long way and now is not the time to give up. We don’t give up,” he said.
“To our members, our supporters and our sympathisers, I thank you once again. I am asking you to remain united. I am asking you to hold each other’s hands and support one another because we need you now more than ever.”